Local News

Military May Decide To Close Schools At Installations

Posted March 5, 2004

— The military has a major educational battle on its hands. The U.S. Department of Defense is considering a plan to close grade schools on its military installations.

Schools on military bases and posts look like any public schools, but to military families, there is no comparison.

Kathy Fontaine's family has moved more than 12 times. Each time, her children have had to learn new faces, but not new material because military schools follow the same curriculums.

"We consider it part of our benefits. If we are living on a military post and there is a military school here, I think we do consider it part of our benefits," Fontaine said.

At Fort Bragg, students are learning the same things they are on other military posts. They are even using the same textbooks.

"It's really not about money. It's about providing a high quality of life for our students and our families," Bragg spokesman Lt. Billy Buckner said.

However, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, it is about money. The Defense department runs 58 schools in the United States, of which 14 schools are in North Carolina and nine are on Fort Bragg. The cost to run the schools nationwide is almost $365 million.

The military looks to cut costs by cutting schools, which means if Fort Bragg schools close, Cumberland County will have to make room for 4,500 new students.

"There's certainly an impact with facilities. There's an impact with staffing. There's an impact throughout the entire system," said Kathy Dickson, spokeswoman of Cumberland County Schools.

The military is expected to make its decision sometime in the next few months. Some schools could close as early as next year.

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